The Case against the Massive Website Redesign
Most people, when they think about website redesign, consider a truly massive change. It’s not really like overhauling a car and putting a new paint job. It’s more like actually buying a new car.
The Usual Scenario
This is what usually happens when it comes to web redesign. You take a good long look at your website, and you feel like the look is old-fashioned and obsolete. The layout is ho-hum boring, and the homepage is a huge indecipherable disaster. You have lots of pictures of employees that no longer work there. And some of your company departments are whining about insufficient website benefits.
So you all come together and decide that a massive website redesign is mandatory. And that’s when the problems really begin. You use up lots of meetings because everyone has their own ideas on what the new design should look like. One option or another is brought up and modified, opinions are sought, votes are cast, and finally the ultimate version of the design is approved by all concerned. Now everyone can go back to their old routine…until the next web redesign is called for.
This is what’s usually happens, except that it is truly inefficient.
What’s Wrong with It?
This is not what a good web redesign process should look like at all. First of all, committees are not exactly known for coming up with the best results. When committees decide on a web design, what you usually get is a product of multiple compromises. So instead of a web design that’s meant to do a few things splendidly, you get a design that offers mediocre results for a lot of goals.
It’s not that the people in committees are inherently dumb, although it can be argued that the IQ of a committee is like the IQ of a mob. You take the IQ score of the dumbest person, and then divide that score by the number of people in the group.
It’s just that even the keenest minds in the business cannot always correctly identify which design (or even which content) will provide the best results.
And with the massive web design where everything is changed, what you get is that you eliminate not just the “bad” parts of your old website, but also the parts which have been doing just fine. So you discard proven website elements and you put in replacements which you don’t know will work at all.
What’s the Right Way?
So instead of making a massive change, one way of doing things more efficiently is to make small changes one at a time. These changes must then be monitored, tested, and analyzed against the old website to see if there are actual improvements.
And even if you really think a massive change is required, even that can be tested against the old design to see if the results actually improve.
The best example of this is Amazon.com, which essentially has looked the same over the years. This seems intentional, because the same look offers a comfort level that engenders trust. But “under the hood” so to speak, Amazon has made a lot of changes over the years.
Do things gradually. You can easily identify which changes are for the better, and you can also retain that trust and credibility that your old design has earned from your current users.
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